Navigating tensions in inclusive conservation: Learning from the Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park in the Netherlands

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Inclusive conservation is promoted as a means to integrate stakeholders in nature, conservation. Despite several studies recognizing that inclusive conservation of protected areas may be challenging and requires explicitly addressing potential tensions between stakeholders, little research has unpacked how these tensions manifest in specific contexts. This paper aims to explore possible approaches for navigating tensions to improve the facilitation of an inclusive conservation approach in the Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park in the Netherlands. We conducted 18 semistructured interviews with stakeholders such as public and private landowners and, municipal and provincial governments in the national park. Results reveal a longer history of collaboration which still fails to address the root of the tensions. The experiences show that compromising or consensus building amongst stakeholders alone is not sufficient for achieving inclusive conservation. Guidance and clear goals set by policy, as well as sufficient investments in capacity and trust building are recommended to avoid inaction. Furthermore, we found that tensions are inextricably linked to different dimensions of power, such as discursive and structural power. While considering power in inclusive conservation can provide a realistic perspective we also, acknowledge that equalizing power is not the silver bullet underpinning this conservation approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103620
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ENVISION was funded through the 2017-2018 Belmont Forum and BiodivERsA joint call for research proposals, under the BiodivScen ERA-Net COFUND programme, and with the support of the following national funders: Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (FORMAS, 2018-02439 ), Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany (BMBF, FKZ:01LC1806A ), Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NOW, 1854767 ), National Science Foundation , United States (NSF, 1854767 ), National Park Service , United States (NPS, P18AC00175 ) and the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación , Spain ( IJCI-2017- 34334 ). Federal Ministry of Education and Research , Germany ( 01LC18064 ).

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